MTC defends its tariff increases

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-MTC says it has actually pushed back the implementation of the increases in its mobile subscription fees and product rates to the first day of June and July respectively, even though the regulator granted it the right to put the increases into effect from May.

In addition, the company says the decision has nothing to do with the absence of public consultations, because the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) gave the public sufficient time to submit objections to the increases, but people failed to do so.

In fact, says MTC, Cran published the notice on 13 March this year, and it did not receive a single objection from the public.

“I can confirm that no objections were received from the public and MTC received Cran’s approval on the 27th April 2017 for tariff implementation effective 1 May,” Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer at MTC, Tim Ekandjo, said.

Ekandjo also emphatically stated that contrary to public comments circulating on social media, they have not increased tariffs 7 percent on all individual products, and the 7 percent only represents the average increase on both pre-paid and post-paid products.

A glance on the MTC website shows that the increase for the most popular Aweh products amounts to between N$1 and N$3, while the increase for prepaid data bundles ranges from N$2 on smaller bundles to N$10 for larger bundle packages.

Prepaid BlackBerry packages will also increase by N$2 for smaller packages and N$7 for higher costing packages.

The increase is highest when it comes to the connection cost of post-paid packages, where increases could go as high as N$70 per package.

Meanwhile, MTC has defended its decision to increase rates, saying it is the first increase in the last 11 years, and that furthermore the increases are below the inflation rate.

Ekandjo maintains that the increases were necessitated by the increasing cost of doing business, particularly the depreciating Namibian dollar over the years and the inflation rate increases from 6.7 in 2006 to 8 percent in 2007.

“Like any other business, we operate in a very turbulent business environment affected by so many external factors beyond our control,” he says.

MTC said that eight years ago it cost just over N$600 000 to erect one tower in an urban area, today it costs anything between N$1.5 million and N$2.5m to put one up because of the ever rising cost of steel, labour, power and rentals.

“It is indeed laudable for MTC to have absorbed costs afflicted by external factors for the past 11 years without proposing an increase. I think that is a clear indication that MTC is very mindful of its customers,” Ekandjo says.

Ekandjo also said customers ought to take note of the fact that the Value-Added Tax (VAT) charged on recharge vouchers did not increase.

The Ministry of Finance set and determined the VAT rate and Ekandjo was at pains to explain, “MTC does not benefit in any way from the VAT charged on recharge vouchers.”
“This was a decision taken by the Ministry of Finance Inland Revenue Services in 2008 to impose a 15 percent VAT on all prepaid airtime, for all telecommunications operators,” he said.

“MTC is not the only operator that charges VAT on recharges. As for the network concerns, we encourage customers to give us continuous feedback where they experience either slow or poor network conditions so that we can address those concerns.

“The biggest concern raised was the disappearing data. You would recall that we ran a massive educational campaign on why data is depleted faster, and gave our customers tips on what they can do to save their data” Ekandjo added.

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